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  • The Making of Asian America

  • A History
  • By: Erika Lee
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 15 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

In the past 50 years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great content, terrible narration

  • By Mrs. Rdz on 10-24-15

A Necessary Survey of American History

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-09-19

With sophistication and exhaustive research author Erika Lee introduces the reader to the shrouded histories of an entire swath of Americans. A vital read for descendants. A heartening song to fellow immigrants of different lands. A critical necessity for those whose image of prototypical American skews towards Northern Europe.

The reader will be introduced to cultures with long and cruel histories in North America, in geographic areas surprising not for being illogical or strange, but for how exploited and intentionally buried they were by the American government. Shock will register against the stunning turns and often violent manipulations against entire ethnic groups, first invited and then hunted for expulsion, all to the benefit for petty changes to socio-economic winds.

That pettiness betrays a oppressively heavy truth further into the text when, compared to the high-minded rhetoric of human rights and freedom drubbing from pulpits and podiums throughout American history books, the epidemic nature of abuse and inequality becomes clear. There is nowhere for a thinking person shelter from the centuries-long brutality of American politics and government geared towards power and ambition alone.

To read this work, performed by Emily Woo Zeller with knowing temperance, is to be confronted by the painful reality that, yes, Americans are sold a fable of their righteousness, but beyond that tired, common trope, the truth is so much worse.

And through it all, immigrants and their children still struggle to rise above.

  • Four Fish

  • The Future of the Last Wild Food
  • By: Paul Greenberg
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 412
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 277
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 274

Our relationship with the ocean is undergoing a profound transformation. Just three decades ago nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild. Today rampant overfishing and an unprecedented biotech revolution have brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex and confusing marketplace.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 Reasons to Read "Four Fish"

  • By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

A Valuable Introduction to Seafood

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-09-19

Often wry and tinged with nostalgia, the Paul Greenberg's introduction to the familiar and profoundly misunderstood world of seafood is vital for a broader understanding of human consumption.

The reader is guided to the far-flung corners of the world that stock our local supermarkets to unravel the historical, social, political, and economic yarn around these four staples.

The concept of the very word 'seafood' is confronted as overly simplistic and undermining. The masquerade of species introduced to quietly replace the withering fish stocks known for centuries reveals the ease with which the consumers ignorance can be exploited. The economic exploitation of the mysterious sea, with its complex biodiversity and structure, betrays the hubris with which mankind has plundered the primordial home of life itself.

And the hypocrisy in our own lives is on display, self-aware and bereft of pretense.

One leaves this work knowledgable, frustrated, and uncertain of the future. Any hope is left in hands of those who can imagine a better way and a respect for the sea.

  • 1984

  • New Classic Edition
  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 11 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22,650
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,648
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,673

George Orwell depicts a gray, totalitarian world dominated by Big Brother and its vast network of agents, including the Thought Police - a world in which news is manufactured according to the authorities' will and people live tepid lives by rote. Winston Smith, a hero with no heroic qualities, longs only for truth and decency. But living in a social system in which privacy does not exist and where those with unorthodox ideas are brainwashed or put to death, he knows there is no hope for him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Come one, Come all into 1984!

  • By Kit McIlvaine (GirlPluggedN) on 02-18-08

The Classic, performed brilliantly

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-09-19

The text speaks for itself. The performance is measured, nuanced, and converses affectations for the critical moments. Absolutely cinematic and turns the prose into a narrative indulgence. Brilliant work.

  • Ancient Rome

  • The Rise and Fall of An Empire
  • By: Simon Baker
  • Narrated by: Chris MacDonnell
  • Length: 17 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100

This is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Simon Baker charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower, focusing on six momentous turning points that shaped Roman history. Welcome to Rome as you've never seen it before - awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid. From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Clear and dramatic

  • By Tad Davis on 08-01-17

A Well Organized, Focused Survey of Ancient Rome

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-13-19

Well performed and smartly organized, Ancient Rome by Simon Baker provides a clear and purposeful survey of ancient Roman history. This book provides a clear outline to the enthusiastic beginner for further reading. For the intermediate, well-read of the common names and events, it will fill gaps in knowledge with its well-researched and tastefully constrained chapters. In the closing chapters, following Titus into Constantine, new and typically uncovered elements of the late empire provide a gateway to reading on Mediterranean societies in the third and fourth centuries. For the expert, its necessary omissions as a survey book are fair, leaning on the satisfying performance and occasionally indulgent hint of drama and suggestion whereas stricter historical accounts are sparse and often dry.

The Roman Republic and Empire, as dauntingly complex as it appears, can be approached amenably through this book. A lovely opportunity to witness the power of historical drama with a broad brush that can lead to lifelong addiction for the ancient world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Churchill and Orwell

  • The Fight for Freedom
  • By: Thomas E. Ricks
  • Narrated by: James Lurie
  • Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 635
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 573
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 573

Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930s - Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they'd died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century, they would be considered two of the most important people in British history.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Elegantly Written

  • By Jean on 06-11-17

An Effective Comparative History Lesson

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-22-19

This work is a well-paced and fair handling of two major figures often mischaracterized in modern accounts for petty political aims. It is a humane and fair attempt to get "at the truth of the matter" regarding their origins, shared existence, and their navigation of a time when the present was cataclysmic and the future uncertain.

The author weaves the central anti-authoritarianism thread shared by the two men into a rich lesson on the importance of the vital political center. However, this is not wielded as a blunt instrument supporting an agenda denouncing the rise of extremism in our world of 2019. How both men arrived at their conclusions as to the nature of liberty and the methods they employed to advance that privilege gives the reader authentic view outside the myopic political bubbles that society so often entrenches itself. It conveys the necessary context of their world and experience onto the reader.

I found this work to be an entertaining, often delightfully bold, and occasionally adversarial in the assumed defense of the two subjects who appear regularly in our zeitgeist. By no means are the sharper edges of their lives and strange idiosyncrasies spared. Both men are described, scarred and carrying their victories as a burden, fairly and without genuflection.

Ultimately, it provides a thoroughly rich personal introduction of the two men that would inspire readers to confidently navigate Churchill and Orwell's literary achievements with greater perspective.

Bravo!